The planned scale-up of mental health care outlined in the National Mental Health Strategy of the Federal Ministry of Health in Ethiopia is to be achieved by training general and primary health care workers to deliver mental health care.1 The MOH recognizes the need to build a multi-disciplinary, specialist mental health workforce to support scale-up across the health system.2
Special attention is given to developing clear career pathways to reduce “brain drain” of mental health professionals. Further, mental health research expertise is needed in order to evaluate the impact of scale-up and to develop a solid evidence base for culturally-appropriate, feasible, equitable, sustainable and cost-effective interventions. Thus the following capacity-building activities have been initiated:
Expansion of mental health specialists
Bachelor’s-level psychiatric nurse training
This program was started in 1983 in the only dedicated psychiatric hospital in Ethiopia (Amanuel Hospital) and has now been expanded to three regional cities (Gondar, Harrar and Mekelle).
Masters-level psychiatric practitioner training
Two programs are now available within Ethiopia. The first was started in 2009 as a collaborative undertaking between Gondar University and Amanuel Hospital. The second is based in one of the regional universities (Jimma University).
Post-graduate psychiatric training
Training of psychiatrists within Ethiopia was initiated in 2003 as a collaborative undertaking between Addis Ababa University and the University of Toronto.
Master- level clinical psychology training
Masters in Clinical Psychology programs have commenced recently in Gondar University (2011) and the School of Psychology, Addis Ababa University (2012).
Expansion of general health workers trained in mental health care
Community-based health extension worker (HEW) upgrading
A new curriculum and training materials for upgrading 38,000 Rural and Urban Health Extension Workers in mental health care have been developed.
Nurse and health officer training
Several programs of in-service training are being scaled up, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (for health centers), Johns Hopkins University-Teshai program and I-TECH – University of Washington and Management Sciences for Health (for HIV services specifically).
Expansion of mental health research capacity
PhD-level mental health research training
A highly successful sandwich model for PhD study in Umeå University, Sweden, has now expanded local capacity sufficiently to run an in-country PhD program in mental health epidemiology (Addis Ababa University, with support from King’s College London).